Sexuality, Orientation, and the Discovery Process

I realized I was somewhere on the LGBT spectrum when I was about fourteen years old. It was a gradual thing, a general process of realization rather than an ‘aha!’ moment and, to be honest, it was terrifying. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know where I fit in the LGBT community or what to even call myself. I didn’t know who to talk to or where to turn with my questions. I was lost in a turmoil, unsure of what to do.

Years later, I’m finally comfortable in my skin and in my identity. It’s been a long process, and a scary one.

Today, I wanted to give any of you who may be struggling with questioning some advice that helped me to be able to figure out who I was and to embrace it.

 

Step One: It’s Okay

When I first figured out that I might not be 100% straight, one of the largest struggles I had was with myself. I had a lot of internalized homophobia and it was very hard to accept that I might be attracted to more than just one gender. It took a long while for me to realize that there’s nothing wrong with this part of me. To be honest, it’s something I still struggle with occasionally.

It’s okay to be attracted to other genders. It’s okay to be attracted to your same gender. It’s okay to be attracted to all of them. It’s okay for you to have all of these feelings and questions and confusions inside of yourself. There is nothing wrong with exploring them, and there is nothing wrong with the results that you find, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

What helped me most was repetition. I had to tell myself over and over again that there was nothing bad about the way I felt about girls. I drilled it into my head every time I felt like I was wrong. I said it over and over again until I finally started to believe it.

 

Step Two: It’s Research Time.

One of the best things I ever did was spend hours upon hours researching all of the different subcategories of LGBTQ+ and taking the time to understand them. It helped me to realize how many different sexualities are out there and the wide variety of identities that people have, and also helped me to understand that there are more than two genders to be attracted to.

There’s something incredibly comforting in knowing that you are not alone and that there are others out there.

 

Step Three: Dig Deep

Do some serious self-reflection. Look inside, journal, write poetry, do art, play music, whatever helps you to think. Explore your attractions in a sexual, romantic, and platonic way. Find out about how you, as an individual, feel about the different genders in different ways.

Everyone is unique, and every orientation is unique. It is all fluctuating and fluid, and differs from person to person. It’s important to understand that the LGBTQ+ spectrum is just that… A spectrum. You don’t have to fall in any particular place to be included and accepted.

 

Step Four: It’s Okay (Part Two)

After you’ve taken some time to look at things both inside yourself and outside yourself, take a step back. You’ve learned a lot. Maybe you’ve found a label that you fit under, and maybe not. But either way, you’ve taken a journey and know more about yourself and the world around you.

Some of the best advice I ever received while I was going through this process was from an old camp counselor whom I had felt comfortable enough to approach. She told me not to worry so much about labeling myself right away, but to go out and experience different things and discover more about what I liked, what I disliked, and everything else. And then, if you feel comfortable in a label, that’s great! But if you don’t, that’s okay too.

 

Labels change. Sexualities evolve. You discover more and more about yourself and the world around you every day, and it’s okay to keep learning more about yourself and adjusting accordingly. Everything is fluid, and your orientation is yours alone. You don’t owe anyone else a label or an explanation, and no one has the right to label you but yourself.

 

Overall? Don’t sweat it too much. Get out and experience life, and if you find a place in the process, then that’s wonderful.

 

You are unique. You are beautiful. But more than anything, know that you are not alone. There are people going through the same struggle as you, and there are people who have been through it that are more than happy to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.

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Death and Fear

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” – Banksy


Death has never scared me, at least not in the conventional way. Death, for me, has always been inevitable. There’s no use being terrified of something you can’t avoid, it seems. I’ve thought about it often. During my elementary school years it was a favorite topic of discussion for me. I’d ask my friends how they wanted to die, their burial, etc. Some played along. Some just gave me strange glances.

If I had to choose, I’d die by falling off a cliff. Violent, yes. Premature, yes. Morbid, definitely yes. Most deaths you simply slip away into nothing, easily, painlessly. The thing about falling is, in those last few moments, you get the sensation of flying. You feel the air rushing against your face, arms widespread eagerly. And the end, over in seconds. 

I’ve always wanted to be cremated. No coffin, just spread my ashes all over the world. Leave a piece of me in every corner you can find, and I will be happy. I might not get to go everywhere in life, but in death I will be one with the soil. I will be omnipresent in the Sahara, the streets of New York City, the crumbling walls of Angkor Wat.

Death has never scared me, at least not in the conventional way.

The second death is where my terror sets in. The idea that someday not a single person in the world will remember that you lived, that you breathed, that you had a small and maybe insignificant presence in this world… That is what I fear, perhaps my greatest fear and the most unavoidabe one.

Death scares me in the way that someday, decades or maybe even centuries from now, I will be forgotten. I will sink to the very back of humanity’s memory and no one will remember I even existed.

I hate the idea of it, the idea that some day my life will have meant nothing. I hate the idea that any memory of me will slip into oblivion, that my name will no longer be my own.
That is the horror that keeps me up at night. To be so totally forgotten is a fear much deeper than anything else I hold.

Death has never scared me, at least not in the conventional way. But the death of any memories of my existence scares me more than anything else ever could.

“So if the inevitability of oblivion worries you, then I suggest you ignore it. God knows that’s what the rest of the world does.”  -John Green

Primaries: Why Bother?

Utah’s Primaries for the 2016 Presidential Race are only one week away. They will be held on March 22 at various locations, depending upon your address. You can enter your address at the following link to find out where to vote for your caucus:

vote.utah.gov

This is my plea: please go vote in the Primaries. Primaries are arguably just as important as the Presidential Elections, if not more so. Research the candidates running for your party of choice, and go make an informed vote about the person you want to head your political party in the Presidential Race for 2016.

Stunningly enough, less than five percent of the general population votes in the Primaries. With such large power in the hands of so few people, it is easy for the primaries to turn into a popularity contest won by whoever has the largest monetary donors. It leaves much room for corruption in the election. When so much influence is given to such a tiny percentage of the population, it likely does not hold the interests of the people on a larger scale.

Primaries are massively important for a multitude of reasons, particularly in this upcoming race. They essentially set the ground for the Presidential Election. Although the nation-wide Presidential Election decides the winner, the Primaries set up the race and its candidates. There is much more variety in the Primaries among candidates and parties, but once each respective party has chosen a candidate the options are greatly diminished.

Although candidates are allowed to run from other parties, the United States of America is essentially run off of a two-party system of Democrats and Republicans. The likelihood of an independently-running candidate winning the Presidential Race is exponentially small, and has never before occurred in the United States’ history. With only two parties that really stand any chance of winning, it is critical for both parties to put out their best option in order to stand a chance at winning the election overall. This means that voter participation in the primaries is vital for each party respectively. The more people vote in the primaries, the better the shot each party has for selecting a candidate that appeals to voters as a larger base.

Within each party there are major divisions and differences in stances on various issues. Although each party has a general platform, candidates vary greatly within this. For example, a radical in either party would run the country much differently than a moderate. While Main Street Republicans (moderates) and Tea Party Republicans (radicals) are both factions of the Republican Party, they hold very different beliefs on many of the tenets held by the Republican Party and thus would institute policies and procedures in a very dissimilar manner. This is the chance that voters have to select a candidate that represents their party in the way that they wish them to. Voters can choose the direction that they wish their party to take in upcoming years. Because of this, it is important for voters to choose a candidate in the Primaries that would represent their best interests and the best interests of the country.

This presidential race will be historic no matter what candidate is chosen for each party. Both sides have some of the most extreme candidates that have ever been seen in a presidential election: the Republicans have radically right-wing runners and the Democrats are drastically right-wing.

Please, inform yourself upon the Presidential Candidates and vote in the Primaries. They have the chance to make or break this next election. You have the chance to change the course of the next eight years. If you choose to vote in the Primaries, you have the chance to make this country a better future.

Donald Drumpf’s Popularity: the How and Why

Primaries have been progressing steadily for the last two months or so. The leader in the race for the Republican Party nomination is Donald Trump (which is actually quite terrifying, but that’s a topic for a different blog post).

Donald Trump’s success comes as somewhat of a surprise. When he announced that he was running, the internet took off with joke after joke, laughing about it. But it’s not a joke anymore. No one expected him to get very far, and no one expected him to be taken seriously. However, he continues to advance forward in the races, with significantly more momentum than almost any of his fellow Republican candidates. It seems that Donald Trump may actually be the leading candidate for the Republican Party, giving him the chance to potentially hold the presidential office.

The question is… Why? Donald Trump has no political experience, a poor understanding of the international field, is blatantly disrespectful to women and minorities, and is essentially unqualified in every way to take over the presidency.

Why is he still so successful?

The answer, in my mind, is fairly simple: FEAR.

Donald Trump has pushed forward the fears of the American people and used them to his advantage. He is alarmingly good at utilizing scapegoats.

Americans fear ISIS and terrorist groups, so Donald Trump turns Muslims and the Middle East into our enemies, blaming them for all of the problems we face in America.

Americans fear the takeover of jobs by illegal immigrants, so Donald Trump turns the Mexican government into a group of villains who surreptitiously plot the downfall of the United States.

Americans fear the fall of the US economy, so Donald Trump emphasizes China’s success and turns them into a foe that must be taken down to protect our country.

Donald Trump’s entire campaign is based off of fear. Anything that can be demonized is, and the small fears of the American people are blown into massive proportions. The terror instilled by Donald Trump is taking over in the minds of many, earning him a herd of loyal followers.

However, the truth is this: Muslims are not terrorists. Mexicans are not criminals. The Chinese are not enemies.

Despite some (very real) fears, these groups of people are not bad. Terrorism lies in the hands of extremists, and drug lords are just as criminal to the Mexican government as they are to us.

I beg of you, do not allow these fears to take over. While they are valid, Donald Trump blows them out of proportion for the sole purpose of getting votes and increasing hostility. If he is put in place as the President of the United States it will have drastic and terrifying effects, not only for us, but for the world as a whole. The United States of America has more influence than any other country, and we must use this power wisely and elect a strong and competent leader.

The After-Effects of Coming Out

As many of you know, I came out on Facebook about a month ago.

“Alright. It’s time to do a thing. I’m sorry to all of you for not telling you in person, but please understand that this is a very nerve-wracking experience and it’s a lot easier to do it when I’m hidden behind a computer screen.
We’re going to have a talk about sexual orientation. Specifically, my sexual orientation. I am attracted to people regardless of their gender. This means that I could be attracted to someone who identifies as male or female, or any other gender. I have decided not to define my sexual orientation by any specific label and I would appreciate it if you would respect that decision.
If you have any questions or would like to know more, I am open to talk about it. I just ask that you keep it respectful.
Huzzah. :)”

In hindsight, I should have left off the ‘huzzah.’

Since coming out, I’ve had a lot of people with questions and comments. I wanted to take today to address some of these.

I have had several people who have informed me of the sexual orientation label which I fall under. Whilst I appreciate the kind intent behind these words… Stop. Please. No, I am not pansexual. Or bisexual. Or questioning. Or just confused. Trust me.

I have known my sexual orientation for years and, before that, I spent obscene amounts of time researching label after label to try and find one that fits me. None of them do. For a long time I felt so lost because of it. I wanted to fit in somewhere, but sometimes there just isn’t a way to describe something in all of its totality. I finally realized that.

I am aware that this can be confusing to many of you, because I felt just as confused.

In all honesty, I’m not entirely certain why I don’t feel comfortable identifying under any label. Part of it, I think, is that labels scare me. For some people, it’s freeing to be able to identify under a label. It gives them a place. But for me, it feels like putting myself in a box, like I’m trapped. It’s claustrophobic. My sexual orientation is so multi-dimensional and, while I’m very comfortable with where I am right now, I still have a lot to learn and explore.

I’m not ready to label myself quite yet. Maybe someday I will be. Maybe not.

And that’s okay.